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Sweet Smoke - Just a Poke CD (album) cover


Sweet Smoke


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.89 | 143 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This is a band I wish I'd have known about when I was a kid, because they have a well- constructed, fascinating early seventies psychedelic sound but unfortunately broke up more than thirty years ago. But I didn't discover them until many years after their demise, and now these disks are pretty much impossible to find, although the CD versions can be had.

Don't know a whole lot about these guys beyond what has been committed to different web sites, but it seems they were some Americans from New York who relocated to Germany and established a kind of ex-patriot Haight-Asbury communal existence, lighting up and dropping out (as evidenced by the band's name). As far as I know none of these guys are active musicians today: one is a lawyer, a couple others are IT engineers.

And speaking of Haight-Asbury, the music on this album has a decidedly San Francisco feel to it, despite the band members being from the west coast. The rhythms remind me a lot of early Santana, although of course with guitar work is nowhere near the precision of Carlos Santana's. The album consists of two sixteen-minute plus tracks, both rather similar with lengthy, jazzy instrumental jam sessions, punctuated by a recorder, saxophone, and occasional drum solos. The vocals are reminiscent of bands like Argent, Donovan, It's a Beautiful Day (the male portions), and the Pentagle (ditto). This is a great album if you want to kick back in the park on a warm summer afternoon and listen to some laid-back music and otherwise zone out. I'm not sure how popular a pastime that is today, but back when this band was around it was a perfectly acceptable way to waste the day away.

I'm guessing "Just a Poke" was meant to have at least one different letter in the title, but this was probably a compromise to censors or the label. The album cover and liner notes leave little doubt as to the kind of music the listener is about to hear. One comment about the overall sound: there is definitely some Canterbury and just general western European influences, since most similar psychedelic bands from the U.S. at this time were either much heavier, or much more bizarre. These guys are much closer to what is today known as acid folk, very smooth and calm in their delivery as opposed to their slightly more angry and stoned American contemporaries like the Doors or Jefferson Airplane.

This isn't the kind of album that gets designated as essential, at least not by me. But it is a great half-hour of warm and rather tame psychedelic riffs set behind folk lyrics, and is worth a listen if you come across it. Three stars easily, but not quite four. Recommended if you can get the reasonable CD version, but probably not if you have to shell out big bucks for the vinyl.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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